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March 6th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

My Take: Who would Jesus vote for?

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation and author of “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.” You can follow him on Twitter @larrytaunton.

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Jesus isn’t up for re-election this year. He’s an uncontested incumbent of sorts.

But that hasn’t stopped presidential candidates from claiming his endorsement and hoping to ride his royal robe into the White House. They invoke his name to summon votes the way his Apostles once used it to make the lame walk and the blind see. They try to, anyway.

Presidential candidates strive to convince the public of their unique qualifications for the highest office in the land. They draw sharp comparisons between themselves and their rivals on issues ranging from the Middle East to health care. They do, that is, on every issue but one: the Christian faith.

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There each asserts that he, not his rivals, is the genuine article: Rick Santorum, scrambling to save his flagging campaign, is busy preaching his Christian credentials to evangelicals hoping to secure their money and their votes; Mitt Romney, less successful with that constituency, has nevertheless endeavored to convince them that Mormons are Christians, too; and Barack Obama, not to be left out, boldly stated at last month’s National Prayer Breakfast that his policies are guided by his Christian convictions and are consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Given these claims, we might reasonably wonder whose candidacy the king of kings would endorse. Who would Jesus vote for?

That is a question Jesus’ contemporaries wanted to know, too. Not that there were any Democrats or Republicans at that time (whether that is good or a bad I leave you to decide). But there were plenty of political parties vying for power. Romans, Zealots, Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes all wanted to know Jesus’ politics. Would he support their agendas, or was he an enemy to be destroyed? Let’s consider the evidence.

Contrary to their Hollywood image, Roman authorities are depicted throughout most of the New Testament as ambivalent to Christianity. Indeed, the first Gentile convert of the new church was a centurion (Acts 10). Shortly thereafter a Roman proconsul also embraced the faith (Acts 13:6-12). It was not until the burning of Rome in A.D. 64 that state-sponsored persecution of Christians began. Before then, Roman authorities were mainly concerned with preserving order in a religiously diverse empire. But when the crowd accused Jesus of treason against Rome - bad politics, so to speak - Pontius Pilate crucified him (John 19:4-16).

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What about the Zealots? Although Scripture says little about them, it is a safe assumption that they were also interested in Jesus’ politics. Violent and embittered by Roman tyranny, the Zealots wanted to overthrow Roman governance of Israel using any and all available means. Was Jesus the conquering Messiah they had long anticipated? When he demonstrated a capacity to woo crowds and perform miracles, some attempted to seize him and make him a king. But Jesus withdrew (John 6:15). Many scholars think that it was, in part, a disappointed Zealotry that incited members of the Jerusalem mob to call for Jesus’ death when they might have asked for his release. Who was released in his place? Pilate gave them Barabbas, a murderer and possibly a Zealot.

As for Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, they are well-documented. Having amputated Judaism from authentic worship of God, they were quick to recognize that Jesus’ message was a threat to their monopoly on power - political as well as religious. When it became clear to them that he would not yield to their authority, they plotted to kill him (John 11:47-53).

So what may we deduce from this about Jesus’ political views? First of all, Jesus was not, as some suggest, indifferent to politics. As the great theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper once observed, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’ ”

Nevertheless, he did not endorse any political platform because he knew that politics are merely a superficial manifestation of the inner man. Hence, it was his practice to address matters of the heart - justice, mercy, love, man’s need for his atoning work - and the eternal consequences that accompany our attitudes toward each. The result was that he condemned elements of every group for their sinfulness and refusal to obey God, while affirming others for their obedience.

Secondly, we learn that Jesus was not seeking political transformation of society, but spiritual transformation. There is a difference. Many evangelicals believe that societal reform is a top-down process: Remove President Barack Obama and frustrate initiatives of the Democratic Party and you’re well on your way.

By contrast, Jesus did not consider Pilate or Tiberius the root of the problem. They were representative of a systemic cultural rot. Wicked people make wicked laws. Change the people, and you change the laws they make.

Finally, Jesus understood that while party affiliation may be an expression of one’s deeply held convictions it does nothing to put you in right standing with God. To lose sight of this, as many on the “religious right” have, is to confuse conversion to a political platform with conversion to Christianity.

To be clear, Christians should exercise their political rights. I exercise mine with relish. But we should never place our hopes in the political process. Hope is found neither in politicians nor in the laws they enact but in Jesus Christ alone.

So who would Jesus vote for? As the executive director of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, I cannot legally tell you that.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,019 Responses)
  1. joy

    He would definitily be a Democrat- on the side of the people. Republicans are mean, vixouis, uncaring, racists, etc, etc. There's nothing Christian about the GOP

    March 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • marsmotel

      I am Republican and I am none of those things. You must be crazy to put something so stupid as to label every person in that party like that. You are a moron!

      March 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      Jesus didn’t like foreigners. A Canaanite woman wants Jesus to heal her sick daughter. Jesus tells his disciples he only heals Jews. He calls the woman a dog and won’t heal her daughter until she agrees that she’s a dog. So maybe he would be a republican after all...

      Mathew 15:21-28
      21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
      22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
      23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
      24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
      25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
      26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
      27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
      28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Democrats: The party of slavery and enslavement. Their symbol is the ass.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  2. drummouse

    Separation of Church and State...end of argument.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  3. Joe Smith

    I think the answer is pretty clear.
    He would not vote for Baby Killers and Sodomites.
    Obama is for partial birth abortion and abortion, this is just plain baby killing, a practice condemned in the Old and New Testament. Secondly,, Gay Marriage is legalized sodom and gomorrah style, again God is opposed to this lifestyle, Leviticus 18, and Romans 1.

    So if the candidate endorses this lifestyle, the answer is pretty clear.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • J.W

      Not too long ago the Republicans had control of the presidency, House, and Senate. Why did they not make abortion illegal when they had the chance? There are no verses where Jesus talks about s3xuality. He says little if anything over s3xual sin at all. He does talk about helping the poor, and Obama gave a higher percent of his income to charity than Romney or Santorum.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  4. Catch

    Jesus would have leveled Congress, just like he tore up the temple. He would not have voted because he would not be party to coruption.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  5. Bhawk

    I dont know if Jesus could vote. He wouldn't have a photo ID, proof of citizenship, and certainly no need of a drivers Lc. Most likely didn't speak enough English to satisfy state governments.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  6. marsmotel

    Jesus was a Pagan so he would probably vote for the othe Pagan, which is Obama. Please get this guy out of office immediately and who cares what Jesus would say, he is dead and has no say.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  7. JM

    Jesus would vote for himself. Meaning: if He is the way, the truth and the life, then obviously we should be voting for (turning to) Him.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • TING

      Here here. On election day, I say stay home and vote for Jesus.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  8. Chris

    Jesus wouldn't vote in a 'merican election. I wish I were paid to write foolish articles.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  9. angryersmell

    In light of the current state of humanity, Jesus would likely vote for the Armaggeddon candidate...so probably Santorum.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  10. Mikeb1

    Jesus would not vote.

    John 2:15-17 (KJV) 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

    Romans 12:2 also says "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

    March 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Bhawk

      outstanding

      March 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  11. Jason

    As a pastor, I think our article writer is spot on. I believe jesus would have positive and negative things to say about both parties. I think the hearts of many Republicans (leaning that direction myself) are a bit snobby and we have grown to have no heart for the needy and those who are hurting. This is one thing I think Democrats do a better job of and that is fighting the fight for those who are in need and those who are hurting. On the other hand, I tend to believe that Christ would more side with Republicans on some of the moral issues we are dealing with, being that there is specific teaching on those issues in the New Testament. In view of scripture, I don't think Jesus would waste his time endorsing candidates and getting heavily involved in politics. He was too busy meeting needs, loving people, and preaching truth (no matter what the party). I have my favorite candidates, but I would most certainly not say that Jesus has endorsed them, per say. I think to make such a statement is missing the entire point of why he came. He didn't come to change politics, he came to change hearts and save people of sin.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • blaqb0x

      So you admit he would stone gay people.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Richard

      @Jason. I might be going crazy. Why would the creator of all things in the world. The man that has witnessed it all from beginning to end be involved in American voting? There are millions of things he could be doing which have nothing to do with humans. I mean considering that he's probably creating universes all over the place and possibly saving millions of living creatures not just in this world but millions others why would he be concerned with our political system? If you're gonna tell me it's cause he creates and does all of these things in a blink of an eye then I would say what does one election mean to god if he can create or destroy life in a second. If you say god is mysterious I might get sick.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    jesus wasn't that great, if he existed at all. if you cherry pick, he seems like a swell guy. but people don't actually read the bible, or all of what jesus said - just the parts about love. jesus supported slavery, told slaves to obey their masters if they want into heaven. make your excuses that slavery was the way of the world back then. but you'd think the 'perfect' son of God would know slavery is arguably the most heinous and inhumane crime you can commit against another human. you would think Jesus would know that, but instead he actually supports slavery:

    Luke 12:37-38 (New American Standard Bible)
    37 "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
    38 "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.”

    and when Jesus comes back, it's not to vote. it's to open daddy's seven seals of destruction and murder almost everyone (including plants and animals) on earth. it's true. read your bible:

    Mathew 10:34-36
    34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
    35 "For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
    36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household."

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jeebus is what his followers need at any moment, so do NOT try and have your reality mess up their dogma

      March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well said, willian. i forget sometimes that christians hate facts.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Jason

      Paul depicts this process of becoming a slave of Christ in Romans 1 and actually boasts about being a bond-slave of Christ. In the OT times a person would sell themselves into service to pay back debts and was quite common. If a slave desired to, once there service was over, they could voluntarily choose to stay and serve their master for life. THis is called a bond-slave. Personally, as a follower of CHrist, I boast that I am no longer a slave to my sinful nature, but I have the blessing of serving a master that is far greater.

      Even this Luke passage you just depicted, you see CHrist the master, making himself like a slave and serving those who are his "slaves." Doesn't sound like the harsh slavery we think of. I am personally a slave to Christ, and I can say form experience that obeying him is far greater than anything else I've tried to live my life for. He has purpose for me, empowers me, and shows his kindness to me. He takes me in from a destroyed life filled with a heavy burden of sin, and gives me a yoke that is light. He saw my life of sin and came to die for those sins because he loves me. How could I not commit all of myself to him. I'm not a slave to Christ because I'm being forced. I am his slave voluntarily.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Maureen

      It's clear you don't know how to read the Bible.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      christians give the most ridiculous answers when it comes to justifying slavery in the bible. there has never been a golden age of slavery where they were treated like members of the family. slaves has always been horribly abused. period. there are rules in the bible for how to BEAT your slave. do bondsmen get beaten? is that good treatment? bible says if you beat them, but hey can walk in a couple days, congratulations, you didn't go overboard with your abuse. you beat them just right. make your excuses for jesus and the bible, but christianity supports slavery.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  13. Max

    As much as all three Republicans (let's face, Ron Paul is just calling himself a Republican to be get party votes that an independent can't) running make me want to find the nearest bomb shelter and hide for a few decades, I feel the need to stick my head out for this article and say, "nice try." So, nice try, Larry! Jesus wouldn't be taken seriously should he decide to reincarnate now! In fact, he'd probably get killed in the crossfire in the wars going on around where he lived. If not that, he'd choke and die on the massive amounts of smog in the atmosphere. Maybe he'd find out about McDonald's and have a heart attack after a few years. Honestly though, I'd like to think that should he try, he wouldn't even be able to get on his feet. Jesus would be just another beggar on the side of the street.

    If not any of those, he still couldn't vote because, you know, he's not a US citizen.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  14. PugPower

    If Jesus was here, I bet he'd be running for office (if not already elected). With the ability to "walk on water" and feed thousands with "five loaves and a fish", he'd be a shoe in!

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      more likely he'd be a street magician like david blane. who, coincidentally, also has no legitimate powers.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • PugPower

      "Bootyfunk

      more likely he'd be a street magician like david blane. who, coincidentally, also has no legitimate powers."

      Who knows, maybe 2000 years from now, two thirds of the world will be worshiping David Blane!

      March 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  15. MinSC

    Jesus would not vote for any of these liars. Actually, he would not vote for 99% of politicians in any country.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  16. Jobe123456:12813

    Jesus wouldn't vote...
    He would run.
    And he would get like 98% of the votes.
    (Cause you know there would be a few jerks out there that don't believe he would do a good job or warship satan or whatever.)

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Jared

      No, He wouldn't run. You see one of the reasons the religious establishment hated Jesus is because He didn't represent the messiah that they wanted. They wanted a king who would physically take over and remove Israel from Rome's rule. From their viewpoint He couldn’t be the messiah because He didn’t do what they expected.

      I don’t think he would be pleased with either party though, much like he didn’t seemed to pleased with the ruling parties of his time.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  17. vicarkatz

    Jesus wouldn't vote for anyone. Voting in today's understanding was not a concept in Jesus' day and community. He would go so far as to say "Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's and unto God, that which is God's." He picked his disciples. they weren't elected.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  18. ken

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIew3R_jAIk

    March 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  19. Michael

    Jesus was not of this world. He came to confront political, spiritual and moral systems and turn people to transcendence. He didn't come to endorse corrupt systems of dominance.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Socap

      here here... Political elections are a choice between the better of two evils... given this criteria Jesus would be a no go

      March 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  20. edwoodjr

    Would Jesus be eligible to vote in our election(s)? He wouldn't be a US citizen.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:56 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.